These are a few ideas for how you can run discussions in your school or class council meetings. In fact you could use them in any meeting really.
|Method||Good for||Be aware of|
|Yes/No/Maybe – designate a different area of the room for each answer. Ask the question and get people to stand in the area that represents their answer. Ask people to explain their reasoning and persuade others.
A more sophisticated version is an ‘opinion line’ where participants place themselves along a line to show how strongly they agree/disagree with something.
A further level of sophistication is to make a graph with 2 axes (e.g. difficulty vs importance or agree vs care).
|Getting people out of their seats.
Pushing people to explain their reasoning.
Getting different people talking.
Being a physical demonstration of changing opinion and persuasion.
|Peer pressure: people not wanting to stand on their own. You can often avoid this by starting with trivial questions and supporting and praising those who do stand on their own.|
|Passing the ‘conch’ – an object is passed around and only the person with that object can speak.
Different rules can be applied: e.g. when you have the ‘conch’ you have to speak; the ‘conch’ has to be passed round the circle; the ‘conch’ can be passed to anyone you like; the conch only goes to those demonstrating good listening.
|Stopping interrupting: it gives a very clear signal of who is supposed to be speaking.
Can help quieter people to speak, because they know they won’t be interrupted and/or they are required to.
|The ‘conch’ becoming a distraction.
Meetings becoming slow if there is no Chair to pass the ‘conch’ on.
|Small groups – set the question and then split the class in to small groups (3-6). Ask them to discuss it and come up with one answer that they can all agree on. Have one person from each group give their group’s answer and reasoning.||Allows everyone to have a say without taking too long.
Encourages compromise within the small group.
|One person dominating a small group.
If all the small groups come up with different answers coming to a conclusion may need further discussions.
|Losing your marbles – give each person 3 marbles. When someone speaks they have to hand over a marble, so once they’ve contributed three times they need to stay quiet. You can also turn this round and say by the end of the meeting everyone needs to have lost all of their marbles.||Making sure the meeting isn’t dominated by a few people.
Encouraging people to consider what is really important for them to contribute to.
Keeping track of who contributes and who doesn’t.
|Having everyone run out of marbles before the end – you need to make sure everyone knows what is coming up, so they can plan when to use a marble.|
What methods do you use to liven up your meetings and ensure that everyone gets a say?